Tag Archives: Beans and Lentils


A number of years ago my friend Lynn gave me a copy of Judy Roger’s The Zuni Café Cookbook (W.W.Norton & Company, New York, 2002). It inspired me in many ways, but mostly to become more adventurous with flavor. I learned that the simplest of dishes can contain the most satisfying flavors. Roger’s shared a recipe for boiled kale that led me to many dishes involving boiled kale and other greens.

Having some wonderful cooked Cassoulet beans on hand, (see recipe Cassoulet Beans) I decided to put them together with some spinach and serve it over thick slices of toasted multi-grain bread. The broth from the beans made a flavorful liquid in which to cook the spinach and to heat the beans. There is plenty of garlic and onions in the beans to give the dish some robust flavor. The crunchy toast contrasts with the silky topping, especially if the bread has seeds on top.

You can use any greens that you like, kale, spinach, chard, leafy endive, etc. Just adjust the cooking time to suit the tenderness of the greens. The amount of greens depends upon how much cooked beans and broth you have on hand and how many servings you want to make. About one to two cups of fresh greens per serving is a good guide. CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE


While in the supermarket I found myself in front of a display of dried corn husks. I stood there, lost in memories of all the tamales I had eaten: the sweet, cinnamon-flavored ones from a little place on lower State Street in Santa Barbara before the freeway went through, the one’s that my friend Lodi’s mother made every year for Christmas. But I quailed at the thought of the time and energy required to make tamales. Then I thought of the tamale pie our neighbor, Aileen, used to make in the 60’s.

The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink informs us that tamale pie showed up in the early 1900’s and became enshrined in the 1905 Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2. According to the Oxford the high point of tamale pie was in 1956 when the Loyalty Cook Book: Native Daughters of the Golden West by Willow Borba was published with nineteen recipes for tamale pie.


When I started exploring plant-based diets a couple of years ago I relied on canned beans. It was hard enough trying to figure out what we were going to eat that day and preparing all of our meals and the thought of preparing my own beans seemed to be too much. So I was happy to use canned beans in my recipes. I have since seen the light and when someone tells you that beans cooked at home are light years away from canned beans, believe them. It is true. And the fresher the beans, the less time they take to cook.

A while back I asked my sister, who lives in Santa Barbara, to send me some specialty beans that are available there. She said she would and then asked me if I knew about Rancho Gordo, the bean place. I didn’t so I immediately Googled them and then my life changed.

WWW.RANCHOGORDO.COM has many different beans and their story is  interesting. Feeling like a kid in a candy store, I ordered several beans including Bayo Chocolate. Who could resist the name? These small beans are indigenous to Mexico and while they look like chocolate, they don’t taste like chocolate. Which is a good thing.


This vegetable soup with kale, Ribollita,  is one of a number of thick soups from Italy served with a slice of bread in the bottom of the bowl. It has  no additional pasta or rice. The name Ribollita means reboiled.  Traditionally the soup was made by heating  leftover vegetable soup in an earthenware pot in the oven. This recipe was inspired by the comprehensive Italian cookbook, The Silver Spoon, Phaidon Press, 2005. As with most plant-based recipes, the method of cooking the vegetables is crucial to obtaining the deepest, richest flavor for the dish. In this recipe, some of the vegetables are sautéed in wine before they go into the stock. These caramelized vegetables  provide a contrast with the sharper kale and tomatoes in the stock.